Maxima Mea Culpa

Alex Gibney’s new documentary, Maxima Mea Culpa, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival this year, casts a critical eye on the issue of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, and most striking is the film’s expose of how this abuse was, and still is, covered up not by low and middle ranking priests in the Catholic Cannon but rather by the Vatican itself, by the Pope and his Cardinals. Ratzinger is culpable and must be tried for gross criminal negligence. As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for over two decades prior to becoming Pope, he time and again read and reviewed, but refused to act on, reports of pedophile priests worldwide. Rather than banishing such men from service in the community, he allowed them to continue their work, and with it, their systematic abuse of children. This denial has ruined many lives. Ratzinger has showed his weakness and cowardice, failing to confront the institutional delusion of his church, which believes that serial sex-offending priests can be treated and permitted to continue their public service when it is clearly evident that the majority of these men are beyond reform. Implicit in this idea that they can be treated is the belief that if they confess and pray enough they will be rehabilitated. And yet they confess to a priest whose loyalty lies not with the victim but with the institution he serves, an institution which, in spite of its noble and loving ideals, serves itself first and foremost, and is determined to hold onto its power and influence no matter what, even if this means denying the horrendous abuse of hundreds of thousands of children. And they pray to a Church which does little to prevent such further abuses, still insisting on celibacy within its ranks when well aware that 50% of its priests are engaged in some form of sexual activity. The Pope, if he is indeed a man of God, must hold himself to account, and then must change the institution he governs.

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